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A plane carrying House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and her delegation departs Taipei on Wednesday. Taiwanese Foreign Ministry/Handout/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images hide caption

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Taiwanese Foreign Ministry/Handout/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

A tourist strolls along the white sand of Maya Beach in Thailand. The destination was once overrun by visitors, but thanks in part to the pandemic, its ecosystem has had time to recover. Michael Sullivan/NPR hide caption

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Michael Sullivan/NPR

In Thailand, the pandemic helped a famous beach recover from an onslaught of tourists

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A train is ready on the station during the handover ceremony of the high-speed rail project in Vientiane, Laos, connecting the city with Kunming, China, on Dec. 3, 2021. Phoonsab Thevongsa/Reuters hide caption

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Phoonsab Thevongsa/Reuters

With U.S. focused on defense, China's trade and infrastructure sweep Southeast Asia

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U.S. Vice President Harris meets with civil society change makers who work on LGBT, transgender, and disability rights and climate change, at the U.S. Chief of Mission's residence in Hanoi, Vietnam, Thursday. Evelyn Hockstein/AP hide caption

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Evelyn Hockstein/AP

U.S. Vice President Kamala Harris meets Vietnam's Prime Minister Pham Minh Chinh at the Office of Government in Hanoi, Vietnam, Wednesday, Aug. 25, 2021. Evelyn Hockstein/AP hide caption

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Evelyn Hockstein/AP

U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin (left) and Philippine Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana shake hands after a bilateral meeting at Camp Aguinaldo military camp in Quezon City, Metro Manila, Philippines, on July 30. Austin is visiting Manila to hold talks with Philippine officials to boost defense ties and possibly discuss the Visiting Forces Agreement between the U.S. and the Philippines. Rolex dela Pena/AP hide caption

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Rolex dela Pena/AP

Health staff and patients at an exhibition center in Kuala Lumpur that's been turned into Malaysia's first mega-vaccination center. The government aims to speed up inoculations amid a sharp spike in infections. Vincent Thian/AP hide caption

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Vincent Thian/AP

A shopper buys vegetables last month in Vientiane, Laos. The government announced that some offices and businesses will resume normal operations on Monday. The country has confirmed 19 COVID-19 cases and no deaths. Xinhua News Agency/Xinhua News Agency/Getty Images hide caption

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Xinhua News Agency/Xinhua News Agency/Getty Images

Indonesians at a traditional market in Bekasi, West Java, on Thursday appear to be ignoring social distancing rules the government put in place to prevent the spread of COVID-19. REZAS/AFP via Getty Images hide caption

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REZAS/AFP via Getty Images

Bus passengers in Bangkok Friday morning. Thailand's prime minister announced a nationwide 10 p.m.-to-4 a.m curfew starting Friday to combat the spread of the coronavirus. Sakchai Lalit/AP hide caption

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Sakchai Lalit/AP

Soldiers in face masks maintain a checkpoint in Putrajaya, Malaysia, on Sunday. The Malaysian government issued a movement order to the public until March 31 to stop the spread of the new coronavirus. Vincent Thian/AP hide caption

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Vincent Thian/AP

A view of Phnom Penh, the capital of Cambodia, from the riverfront of a temple complex outside the city. Michael Sullivan for NPR hide caption

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Michael Sullivan for NPR

'Houses On The River Will Fall': Cambodia's Sand Mining Threatens Vital Mekong

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Fish broker Khout Phany, 39, (under umbrella) sits while fishermen bring their catch to be weighed in Chhnok Tru, a fishing village at the southern tip of the Tonle Sap lake where it meets the river. Michael Sullivan/NPR hide caption

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Leaders of the opposition Cambodia National Rescue Party, (from left) Sam Rainsy, Mu Sochua and Kem Sokha, give speeches in Phnom Penh in 2014. Rainsy and Sochua now live in self-imposed exile outside the country, while Sokha has been jailed since 2017. Omar Havana/Getty Images hide caption

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Omar Havana/Getty Images

Handlers, known as mahouts, ride elephants along a mountain ridge at the Elephant Conservation Center in Xayaboury, Laos. The center has 29 elephants, most of which spent long careers hauling logs in Laos' logging industry. Ashley Westerman/NPR hide caption

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Ashley Westerman/NPR

Giant concrete pylons rise from the Mekong River north of Luang Prabang, where a bridge is under construction. Ashley Westerman/NPR hide caption

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Ashley Westerman/NPR

In Laos, A Chinese-Funded Railway Sparks Hope For Growth — And Fears Of Debt

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Chinese border patrol gunboats come downriver from the Yunnan province about once a month in a show of force to keep the Mekong River safe, as China's Xinhua News Agency puts it. Michael Sullivan for NPR hide caption

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Michael Sullivan for NPR

China Reshapes The Vital Mekong River To Power Its Expansion

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